Holiday destinations: Milan, Italy

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled with my husband to Milan in Northern Italy. I’ve been in Milan a few times before as I love the cosmopolitan vibe offered by this global city which is perfect for anyone who loves the art, design, entertainment and fashion.

Milan has been recognised as one of the worlds fashion capitals and the famous Milan Fashion Week takes place here on a yearly basis. It is also one of the key European financial capitals and Italian stock exchange is based here.

Over 8 million visitors are attracted by Milan every year as the city has lots of heritage with some great museums and art galleries featuring some of the most famous collections in the world including works by Leonardo da Vinci.

If you like sightseeing then there is a lot to see and the city will appeal to a wide range of different visitors.

Here is a short list of my suggestions of places worth visiting:

  • Duomo di Milano – one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world which completion took almost 600 years. Located on a Piazza del Duomo with many lively cafes and the elegant fashion shops.
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – one of the most beautiful and oldest shopping malls in the world featuring many designer boutiques based in a four-storey arcade opposite of Duomo di Milano in central Milan.
  • Sforzesco Castle – a castle built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza who was a Duke of Milan.

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  • Sempione Park – a large park leading to Sforzesco Castle which was established in 1888.
  • Teatro alla Scala – a well-known opera house which was established in 1778.

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How to get there?

If you live in the UK then you can easily get to Milan from most of major cities. We’ve flown from London Heathrow and it took us slightly over 2 hours.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review.

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Pauline

Dinner at The Artist Bistro in Porto, Portugal

Last week, I was with my husband in Porto in Portugal. On our last evening, we booked a table at the popular local restaurant – The Artist Bistro. It was definitely the best meal we had whilst in Portugal.

Location:

The Artist Bistro is located inside The Artist Hotel. The hotel is based in a former art school and provides a contemporary and comfortable environment, inspiring and developing the skills of the current students of the Hotel and Tourism school who work there. It is just around a corner from a famous shopping street and commercial area of Rua de Santa Catarina. The metro closest station (Campo de Agosto) is just a few minutes away.

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Atmosphere:

The Artist Bistro is inspired by the artistic heritage of the building which has previously hosted an Art School. The decoration of the restaurant is classy and elegant.

All art visible in the restaurant is made up of pieces from previous students of the old school Soares dos Reis.

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The dinning experience at The Artist Bistro is designed to socialise with the art one can see, smell, taste and feel. The atmosphere of the restaurant is warm and inviting. We were welcomed by Katia who was attending our table through the night. She was really friendly and professional. Quiet jazz music was playing in the background…

The menu:

Do you like surprises and trying new things? If you are quite open to the new experiences and you like being surprised then you will love The Artist Bistro. The key aim of the Head Chef – Hugo Dias is to surprise his dinners with a unique experience of sampling some great locally sourced food.

You can now be surprised by selecting one of 3 sampling menus:

  • Myth 5 experiences
  • Musa 7 experiences
  • Bistro 9 experiences

What all of these menus have in common is that they change on a daily basis and they offer dinners a combination of unforgettable flavours. At the beginning of the meal, we were asked if we had any allergies and whether there were any ingredients we really didn’t like. Our waitress took notes and explained that every course we’ll  receive will be a surprise-we could only choose what type of main dish we wanted to receive (fish/ meat / vegetarian). The really unique think about this restaurant was that we didn’t know what we will have for any of the courses!

We decided to try a Musa – 7 course dinning experience. Each dish was beautifully presented and made from fresh seasonal foods.

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While sipping some crispy white wine, our first course arrived- oysters with some red onions.

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We finished them in no time and the waitress brought us some mouth-watering mushroom soup with some olive oil, croutons and chives. It was delicious.

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From the next course onward we were surprised with different dish each. We received ‘Samosas de Artist’. We decided to play a game and identify the ingredients of our samosas-a great way of having fun whilst enjoying your meal. My samosa was with goats cheese with pumpkin and my husband received a samosa with a chicken and chorizo filling.

Next, we received some vegetable brioche with some potatoes, carrots, peppers, balsamic vinegar, courgettes which were all baked with egg. It was really enjoyable.

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Moving on, I received caramelized scallops with a cauliflower mouse-they were divine.

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My husband, on the other hand, got an octopus with a lime foam with breadcrumbs and site salad. It crackled like a sea because of the foam popping up.

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Following on from our great seafood dishes, I received some green beans stew based on a traditional Portuguese sausage and bread in a rich tomatoes sauce.

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My husband got some pork belly, crackling with balsamic vinegar.

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Before our main dishes were served, our waitress brought us some lemon & vodka sorbet to clean the palette. It was really refreshing.

At the begging of our meal I decided to have a fish main and I received some beautifully cooked sea bass paired up with an appetizing vegetable puree.

My husband decided to have a meat main and he received some quail with roasted carrots, potatoes pure in a port sauce with some figs and rosemary. It was the best quail he has ever eaten-extremely tender and cooked to perfection.

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If you read my reviews regularly then you will know that a dessert is always my favorite part of any meal. I received a delectable chocolate brownie with large pieces of nuts and some vanilla ice-cream.

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To finish off his meal my husband received a pear that was boiled in port and paired up with some raspberry ice-creams.

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Overall experience:

We both had an amazing time at The Artist Bistro. As I like surprises and trying new food, I was delighted with the concept of discovery. The restaurant serves delicious food with a twist. In addition to food, the service was great and the restaurant is conveniently located so I would definitely visit it again.

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Website:

For more information and to book visit:

http://www.shotels.pt/restaurantetheartistbistrot/en/home

Address:

 Rua da Firmeza 49,

4000-099 Porto, Portugal

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

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Pauline

 

Holiday destinations: Porto, Portugal

Last week, I traveled with my husband to Porto in Portugal. Porto is Portugal’s second largest city after Lisbon set on the northern bank of the Douro River.

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The city is located inland from the Atlantic and the visitors can visit one of its popular beaches which I just a short train ride away.

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Although, Porto is not known as a city-break / weekend break destination, it is quickly becoming one of Western Europe’s most respected tourist destinations. In 1996, the historical center of Porto was classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This year, the city was nominated by WTA (World Travel Awards) in these 2 categories:

  • Europe’s Leading City Break Destination 2017
  • Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction 2017

The city boasts an extensive history, interesting tourist attractions and a buzzing nightlife.

If you like sightseeing then there is a lot to see and the city will appeal to a wide range of different visitors. As we arrived quite early on Saturday morning, we decided to take one of the sightseeing bus tours to quickly see all the main sites prior to exploring this colorful city on foot. There were lots of opportunities to admire the viewpoint of the terracotta rooftops and the city’s dreamy architecture.

Here is a short list of my suggestions of places worth visiting:

  • The Ribeira district – the oldest district of the city which is filled with ancient houses, narrow cobbled streets and numerous family owned restaurants, cafes and bars.

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  • São Bento train station – a 19th-century railway station located in the centre of Porto that features some beautiful tiles.
  • A mini-cruise down the Douro rivers admiring the architecture of the city and its beautiful bridges.
  • Dom Luís I Bridge – a double-deck metal arch bridge that spans the River Douro between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal.
  • Palácio da Bolsa –  a historical building built in the 19th century by the city’s Commercial Association in Neoclassical style.
  • Casa da Música – a modern design, 12-floor concert hall & top floor restaurant  completed in 2005.

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How to get there?

It’s never been easier to get there and Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates year round flights and holidays to Porto from Birmingham, London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, from £42 one way (£77 return).

For further information or to book Monarch flightsMonarch Holidays or Monarch Hotels, please visit www.monarch.co.uk

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I hope you enjoyed reading this review.

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Pauline

Holiday destinations: Washington D.C., USA

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Washington D.C., the capital of the United States. Washington, D.C. is formally known as the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as “Washington”, “the District”, or simply “D.C.”.

Statistics from last year show that Washington had an estimated population of 681,170 however commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city’s population to more than one million during the workweek. Washington, D.C., is located in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. East Coast.

There are many places worth visiting in Washington. Please find a quick summary listed below:

  • Learn more by visiting free Smithsonian museums so you can absorb culture the way it was meant to be experienced — in short encounters in the midst of everyday life.
  • Take flight at the National Air & Space Museum.
  • Learn about the freedom of the press and take some cool photos at the Newseum.

IMG_2019You should also visit the Pulitzer Prize photographs gallery which features all the winning photographs.

  • Go and take some photos of the White House. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get the access to the building but there are quite a few good places where you can view it from.
  • Visit United States Capitol. You can still access it and the tickets are available from a kiosk just outside the building.
  • Stroll down The National Mall. It is definitely the best way to see most of Washington’s monuments starting from the Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Visit Washington National Cathedral. This beautiful Gothic cathedral has been used for state funerals for three presidents and many other important burials and memorials.
  • Go shopping at Tanger Outlet. It is located 20 min drive from central Washington and if you like a bargain then you should definitely go there and check it out.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review.

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Pauline

Dinner at Vinodol restaurant in Zagreb, Croatia

A couple of weeks ago, I was with my husband in Zagreb in Croatia. On our last evening, we booked a table at the popular local restaurant – Vinodol.

Location:

Vinodol Restaurant is located in the city’s center on Nikole Tesle’s street.

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Atmosphere:

Vinodol Restaurant serves meals that are prepared according to traditional recipes, with a modern approach.  The restaurant has a large inside area that can hold up to 180 guest in addition to a green and spacious outdoor terrace that sits 100.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is warm and inviting. We were welcomed by Lucy who was attending our table through the night. She was really friendly and professional.

The menu:

All guests can choose from A La Carte as well as great daily menus made from selected fresh seasonal foods. They both looked great. We decided to have a glass of Prosecco to start with while considering what we should have.

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Starters:

While sipping our Prosecco, we decided to order some asparagus, shrimp and wild mushroom risotto from a daily menu. It was delectable and I wish I could recreate it at home.

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Mains:

There was a great choice of mains on the menu. We asked our friendly waitress for a recommendation as we couldn’t decide and agreed to share some lamb prepared on spit from Cres island.

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It was really tasty and tender. It also came with a couple of sides and some potatoes.

Desserts:

We were full after having our starters and mains but we still decided to try some desserts: some hazelnut fantasy cake and a creme carmel. They were both delicious but the hazelnut cake was simply amazing! It was definitely the best cake I’ve tried so far this year and you should definitely try it if you visit Vinodol.

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Overall experience:

We both had a lovely time Vinodol as the restaurant serves delicious food based on fresh, seasonal ingredients. I loved my hazelnut cake and will definitely reccommend it to anyone with a sweet tooth. The service was really friendly, restaurant is located in a city center and it serves great quality, traditional and Mediterranean food with a modern influence so I would definitely visit it again.

Website:

For more information and to book visit:

http://www.vinodol-zg.hr/en/

Address:

Ul. Nikole Tesle 10,

10000 Zagreb, Croatia

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

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Pauline

 

Holiday destinations: Zagreb, Croatia

Two weeks ago, I travelled with my husband to Zagreb in Croatia. Zagreb is not the first city that comes on anyone’s mind when thinking of Croatia but it should definitely change. For me, it was the third Croatian city we’ve seen so far as we previously visited Split and Dubrovnik known from Game of Thrones.

Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of Croatia. It is located in the northwest of the country, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb’s metropolitan area is the biggest in Croatia with a population of over one million.

Zagreb is a city with a rich history dating from the Roman times to the present day. The city smells of roses and there are many flower shops as well as a flower market located in center of the town.

I love how colorful and vibrant it it. It is a perfect destination for a weekend / city break. There are hundreds of great restaurants and bars located in there and even the most demanding foodies like me can choose from a range of local and international cuisines.

If you like sightseeing then there is a lot to see. Here is a short list of my suggestions of places worth visiting:

  • The Upper Town
  • Zagreb Cathedral
  • Zagreb Eye
  • King Tomislav Square
  • Maksimir Park and Zagreb Zoo
  • Ilica Street (for a bit of retail therapy)
  • Museum of Broken Relationships (if you would like to read some heartbreaking stories told by hundreds of personal belongings of past lovers from all over the world).
  • And many more hidden gems like these:

How to get there?

Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates year round flights and holidays to Zagreb from London Gatwick and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, from £42 one way (£79 return). It is a great cheap airline with the friendliest flight attendants I have ever met.

For further information or to book Monarch flights, Monarch Holidays or Monarch Hotels, please visit www.monarch.co.uk

I hope you enjoyed reading this review.

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Pauline

Lunch at Sofra Green restaurant in Zagreb, Croatia

During the last full day of our trip to Zagreb in Croatia, we decided to head to Sofra Green Gold- a traditional Bosnian food restaurant. I have never previously had any opportunity to try Bosnian cuisine. It is known to be often prepared with good quality meat that is one of the key ingredients of some of the most popular Bosnian dishes such as bosanski lonac, ćevapi, begova čorba, burek, and grah so it took no time to convince my husband to accompany me to a lunch at this restaurant.

Location:

Sofra Green Gold restaurant is located in a business district of Zagreb, around 20 minutes’ walk or 5 minutes taxi ride from in the city’s centre.

Atmosphere:

The atmosphere at this traditional Bosnian restaurant is homely and it features lots of traditional features. I really enjoyed its décor and, for a minute, it felt like I was taken to a different country.

We were attended by a few different approachable waiters throughout our lunch.

The menu:

Sofra Green Gold restaurant offers traditional Bosnian specialties served in authentic Bosnian environment.

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Starters:

To start with, we tried some Begova čorba. It is the most popular soup in Bosnia– Bey’s soup made of chicken meat, vegetables, cream and okra.

Mains:

For our main we decided to share some meat pie (burek) and Cheese pie (sirnica). They are both traditional pies from Bosnia made of meat and cream cheese. I really liked burek and the meaty filling was amazing.

We then had some ‘Dragon of Bosnia’. This massive platter comes with a selection of meat accompanied by some rice and mashed potatoes. Firstly, I tried the beef steak with dry prunes, peppers, cognac and Worchester.

It was really tasty and I liked the gravy sauce accompanying it. Secondly, I digged into minced meat “čevapi” with beef prosciutto, cheese and vegetables in white cream sauce.

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Again, I wasn’t disappointed. All flavours worked perfectly with each other. In addition to our platter, we aldo had some traditional Šopska salad- a season salad based on tomatoes and cucumber with cheese and some cucumber in cream.

Desserts:

For our dessert we had some home-made baklava and Tufahija, which is basically a boiled apple in a sauce served with nutty filling and topped up with some whipped cream. They were both yummy!

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Overall experience:

We both enjoyed the food and atmosphere in this Bosnian restaurant. The restaurant is very popular-when we arrived at 12:00 there were just a few other tables taken but in around 30 minutes the restaurant was full of locals and expats so I would advise to book a table in advance.

Website:

For more information and to book visit:

https://sofra.hr/

Address:

Radnička cesta 37b

10000 Zagreb, Croatia

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

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Pauline